A Room of My Own: Why Creative Space Matters

img_8375

Sometimes it feels like my kids simply cannot keep their hands to themselves. They can’t help it, I know this. Powerful curiosity paired with a lack of impulse control means small children touch EVERYTHING. They want to feel the surface of a book. Tap the hard glass on a picture frame. Stroke the glossy leaves of a houseplant. Tap tap tap on the keys of the laptop.  Sift through the detritus in my nightstand drawer. You get the picture.

Much of this exploring is delightful to watch, and mostly harmless. But some of it grates on me, makes me feel violated in a way. Like each poke of a little finger into my brand new blush compact is a poke in my eye.

As a parent I try not to take my kids’ behavior too personally. I know and respect that they are their own people trying to make sense of the world just like the rest of us. Our children are given room to roam within the boundaries of our family rules, and it mostly goes okay.

Where I’m still struggling to find flexibility and ease is in claiming some personal physical space.


When we first moved into our house, my vision of each living space was so clear. We have a two-story home, and and the first floor has our living and dining rooms, kitchen, and a half-bath.

We also have a lovely extra room at the front of the house with double doors, a transom window above, and tons of natural light thanks to a large east-facing window. My daughter was a toddler when we moved in, and making this space a playroom was ideal. She could have a space to play and create and be messy. It was close to the main living areas, and having this space meant no toys in those living areas. I took great pleasure in designing the room. We shopped at Ikea and put together a desk and cubbies and hung picture wires to display her creations. It was perfect.

We have spent countless hours together over the years in this sweet room working with play dough, painting at the easel, building train tracks, stacking blocks, reading books. It was exactly what we needed for that phase of life.

Somewhere along the way, she started spending less time in the playroom and more time in her bedroom. She was getting older and wanted her own space. Then along came baby brother, and soon this room with its paint and markers and tiny lego pieces wasn’t as appealing a place to hang out. We slowly started moving things in and out of the room to make it work.

Soon we were spending less and less time in the playroom.

Meanwhile, I had started a podcast. I had started offering coaching to other creatives and was working from home more.  Our desk was tucked into a living space, and would naturally invite lots of curious little hands to its surfaces. A computer screen was damaged. Papers were crumpled. Nerves (mine) started to get frayed.

And then one day it dawned on me: What if we turned the playroom into an office?

It felt daring and exciting; the perfect solution. It also felt SELFISH as hell.

Who was I to take this sweet kid space away from the family in order to have space for me and my brain to think and create?  

And yet I couldn’t shake the dream.

At the beginning of the year I had made a vision board. It wasn’t until the piece was complete that I noticed a pattern. Desks. Modern chairs. Lots of invitations to write. My heart knew what I desired before my mind knew.  And once I realized that, I had to get my brain – and family – on board.

It was tough. There was resistance to this new arrangement from every side. My daughter cried. My wife bemoaned the loss of the kids’ artwork display.  I still felt guilty.

img_8374-1

In the end we compromised, and the room is now a shared creative space.

The original creative workspace has moved to one corner and holds our household art supplies. A rotating display of original creations hangs above. The toys are (mostly) gone, replaced by an adult desk and computer. A bookshelf relocated from another area of the house holds books, family photo albums, and a shelf of puzzles and quiet work for the kids. I hung my vision board and slowly added my treasures.

Creating this space was important both for my actual creative process but also in owning the importance of my work.  Having a physical space brings my ambitions out of my head and into the real world. Ultimately, this area represents the creative potential in all of us, from little hands to big hands.

Some of my favorite moments are when the kids and I are all in here quietly working. My daughter will be drawing or writing a story at her desk. I will be editing a podcast, writing a blog post, or daydreaming. My son will most likely be driving a car back and forth on the windowsill. There’s often a cat or dog asleep somewhere.

It’s these moments that I could choose to be annoyed that they’ve invaded “my space” or I could choose to be content with the arrangement. Full disclosure: there are days where I have to kick them out and close the door!  It’s okay. 

These years are short, and soon enough I will miss these busy little hands. In the meantime, I am so glad I staked my claim in one corner of a room to help my creative spirit. And, even though I thought I needed the room all to myself, it’s been a delight to do this work alongside my kids.

IMG_7796.JPG

The playroom before.

How to Gain Clarity and Move Toward Your Dreams

Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

  • I’d love to try to publish my knitting designs. 
  • I’ve always wanted to write a book.
  • I dream of moving to the beach/mountains/city and living a new life.

But …

  • I’m not good enough, don’t know enough, don’t have time right now.
  • I have kids, a job, a mortgage . . .
  • Who am I to sell my stuff, tell my story, follow a dream?

 

IMG_1449

I’ve been there. Hell, suppressing those negative inner voices is an almost daily task for me.  But I’ve gotten used to them, and I know they’re not telling me the truth.

So often we talk ourselves out of our dreams. We talk over and ignore them. We brush them off as silly or impractical. We delay them for some nebulous time in the future when we have more time or more money or better skills or more confidence.

I’m tired of putting dreams on hold. Secretly, most people are, but they don’t know what to do about it.

Gain Clarity and Move Toward Your Dreams

The first step in moving toward your dreams is acknowledging them. The second step is taking action.

Find your dreams.

Sometimes we’ve stuffed our juiciest, larger-than-life dreams deep down inside. We have responsibilities, after all!  Your job is to reconnect with your dreams. Here’s an ide:

Try meditating or taking a walk (no phones allowed) to clear your head. Take as long as you want for this step. Really let yourself imagine the possibilities or to shake off the limiting thoughts you’re so used to carrying. 

When you’re done, sit down with a journal and write for 5 minutes to the prompt I want or I dream about. Write down whatever comes to your head. Don’t judge or try to figure out practicalities. Let yourself dream. Big, small, whatever comes up for you, write it down.

Now look at what you wrote. What truths do you find there that you expected? What did you write that surprised you? 

Now comes the hard question: what are you going to do about it?

IMG_1395

Take one small step.

What is one thing you can do right now to move toward that dream? Schedule time to paint once a week, no matter what. Sign up for that writing class you’ve been dithering about. Email a friend who sells her handiwork to see if you can ask her some questions. Talk to your partner or somebody supportive about this dream and brainstorm what you could do.

Get support.

Going for your dreams can be scary—and exhilarating. It’s easy to fall back into old habits of shutting down the dream, throwing up your own roadblocks, or getting stuck in indecision.

A coach can help you see next step, call you on your bullshit, work with you on mindset issues. You still have to commit. You still have to do the work, but you’ve got somebody to hold you accountable, cheer you on, and give you fresh perspective.

Last year I had the bold idea to help other people realize their creative dreams. At the time I was running a brick and mortar business, parenting my two young kids, and living a full, sometimes stressful life. Who was I to add another big dream to my life?  I thought about putting this dream on hold until a better time.  But then I decided to just dive in. Live boldly.

I can help you move toward your creative dream.

So what is your crazy dream? The one you feel silly talking about or hide in your heart because you’re afraid others will think it’s silly and it’s really important to you. Even if you don’t talk about it.

What dream have you been ignoring or telling yourself you couldn’t really do that?

What if I told you that you could?

Find your dream. Act boldly. Live your dream.

I’d love to help.

Click here to learn more about my Creative Clarity Sessions

Creative Clarity Session image

Eating to Feel Better : One Part Plant

I’m not one for diets or labels when it comes to my food. I like to eat.

I like to eat good food that I know is good for me, and food that makes me feel like crap.  I get just as excited about a big greasy cheesburger as I do a paleo bowl at Laughing Planet.  Green smoothies and milkshakes. Avocado toast and nutella toast. yum yum yum!

For a long time I accepted that the way my body was feeling is just how it was now.  I didn’t “get” the food body connection.

I’m learning that the more I eat food that is good for me, the better I feel.

This is something I’ve known intellectually for some time, but it wasn’t until my well-being was really challenged that I saw how true it was.

  • kidney stones
  • inflammation
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • upset stomach

These are just a few of the symptoms I struggled with in the past few years.  They crept on os slowly that I was usually able to attribute them to something else that was going on in my life.

Super tired all the time?  Weeeell, I do have a toddler and a business.

Hands ache all the time and having trouble opening jars of nacho cheese?  I’ve probably just been knitting too much.

And on and on.

But deep down, I knew.

The first change I made just to see what would happen, was trying a 30-day vegan challenge.  This was incredible for me. I felt lighter, had more energy, and was sleeping better. But I wasn’t prepared to make a lifestyle change of that magnitude. So after the 30 days were over, I committed to not eating meat.  I knew that “too much” dairy also had an affect on me, but i wasn’t willing to go there.

peppermint-honey-cups-one-part-plant

Being meat free lasted about 3 years. I did “sneak” the occasional steak and would feel horrible about it. This is one of the reasons I don’t like lifestyle labels, btw.  It leads to guilt and shame and this feeling of wrongdoing around food, which isn’t healthy.

During my last pregnancy with my son, the intense cravings for red meat were Real.  I dipped my toe back into eating meat regularly, and it seemed like just what my body needed at the time. Like, I needed all those cheeseburgers…

But after he was born, I didn’t go back.

In fact, my eating probably got worse for a bit.

And so did my joint pain and fatigue.  Hmmmm.

Enter the lovely Jessica Murnane into my life via the One Part Plant Podcast.

I discovered the podcast quite by accident when someone else I followed was on the show. I loved Jessica’s casual yet deep interview style, and I was immediately hooked. And over time, her message of eating just one plant-based meal started taking root in my soul.

I started to feel invested in taking care of my physical body again.

Green smoothies, returning to a regular yoga practice, cleaning up my skin and makeup routine, even making a damn vision board: I can attribute it all to my girl Jessica.

So when she announced that she would be writing a cookbook, I was thrilled. I knew her story of going from a junk-food eating kitchen avoider to a plant-based cookbook author was real.  If she could change her lifestyle to feel better (she suffered from Stage 4 endometriosis for years), then so could I.

Jessica’s new book, One Part Plant , is being released next week on Feb 21st!  I happen to have an advance copy and can tell you it is so beautiful.  The layout and photography are stunning, and I can’t help but drool when I look at the recipes.  From dips and spreads to salads, and hearty main courses, Jessica has you covered for that one plant-based meal a day. Including dessert.

I’ve been incorporating more plant-based meals into my daily life, and I feel so much better for it. I’m not saying I’m vegan or not, vegetarian or not. After all, I still love those cheeseburgers!  But I know when I’m not eating much sugar or dairy or meat, my body feels more energetic and strong.

And that’s a good thing, whatever you want to call it.

Pre-orders are available on Amazon now and include a little discount.  Of course you can also head to your local bookstore next week to pick one up. 

Bonus: I’m thrilled to share that Jessica Murnane is going to be a guest on the very next episode of MY podcast!!!  I was super excited to have the opportunity to sit down with her and hear more of her story.  What is it really like to write a book?  Did her husband join her plant-based eating adventure?  Does she ever struggle with what to make for dinner?

Tune in on Monday for a brand new episode of the Stash Podcast. Subscribe via iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and you will automatically get new episodes as soon as they are released!

opp_infographic_0117_v4-2


I’d love to hear from you how food makes you feel. I know this is a big, complicated, messy topic. But I think in our gut we know what makes us feel good and what makes us feel not so good.


 

Create a new habit in just 15 minutes a day! via www.peacefulknitter.wordpress.com

15 minutes a day

 

Create a new habit in just 15 minutes a day! via www.peacefulknitter.wordpress.com

Morning rituals. Habit trackers. 10,000 hours. 21 days. Lifehacks. The Four Habits.

There’s so much advice out there for how to create new habits that help you achieve your goals.  I’ve considered many of them, and they just haven’t worked.

They haven’t worked because the chunk of time required seemed out of reach.  I’m a business owner and mom of two young children!  I don’t have a lot of open spaces in my day, and when I do (usually at the end of a full day) I often choose sleep or cuddling on the couch with my wife and the remote.

A lack of perceived time is a convenient excuse, and one I’ve leaned on a lot in recent years.

But the fact of the matter is, the time and space for achieving my goals is already there. I just haven’t been taking advantage of them.

It’s all too easy for me to spend 15 minutes in between activities scrolling through Instagram, checking my email, or browsing Pinterest.  At the end of the day I often wonder where I the time went. But it was there, hiding in those 15 minute increments.

At the end of almost every day I wished I had gone for a walk or done some writing.  I spent more time consuming content than creating it.

So, instead of wishing for it, I’m making myself do it.  15 minutes a day, first thing.

I’m sitting down at the laptop and writing whatever comes out of my head, for 15 minutes every morning.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • committing to writing 15 minutes a day.
  • writing directly into a Google Doc so I can add to it or access it from anywhere.
  • setting a timer on my phone and making myself write until the time is up.  And sometimes I keep writing beyond the 15 minutes!  (high fives self)

It has been a beautiful practice.  A simple practice. And I feel so good about spending some time on an activity that I have been longing to make space for.

I don’t know where it’s going, and I’m not worried about that. The whole point is to begin. To not censor myself or edit as I go, or think about the content’s usefulness in my life or business. Just writing for the sake of writing. And it feels so good.

The more I commit to one 15 minute habit, the more space I’m seeing in my day for other habits.  The thrill of this practice has me thinking of the other things I’ve been longing to do. Those things that repeatedly tug at my attention, whispering You should do this…

I think meditation is next, probably at the end of my day.

What’s one thing you could do for 15 minutes a day? Let me know in the comments below!

Ask Yourself: How can this be Unconventional?

bmf-headline

One of the reasons I started my own business was because I couldn’t picture myself chasing someone else’s dream.

I had jobs working for everyone from small business owners to a major corporate bookseller, and I had seen it all. It felt good to learn from people hustling their creative ideas and putting out into the world. And it was valuable learning how the corporate retail world was structured.

But at the end of the day, I had to get out there and do my own thing.

And in the beginning it was thrilling!  I was also terrified every single day.  It takes guts to put yourself on the line, and I felt so uncertain and vulnerable in those early days.

I had a lot of experience working for other people, but putting your own ideas out into the world is an entirely different beast. It was exciting!  I was in control and could do whatever the hell I wanted to create the business of my dreams. But at the same time I was often nauseous and anxious, paralyzed by all I didn’t know.

I quickly found support in the form of an online mentor and a local group of women running their own businesses. The idea that other people had walked this path before me and were walking it alongside me was hugely reassuring.

Aside from the practical advice (WordPress Plugins, POS software, and Inventory Management), I gained a huge amount of confidence and support from just being around other dreamers and doers.  This support emboldened me to try new things, blaze new trails, and stay playful with my ideas.

These people weren’t just talking about all their great ideas. No, they were creating them and sharing them with the world.

buymyfuture-simple

One person I have found immense inspiration and support from is Jason Zook.  He’s done some zany things to build businesses, earn money, and connect to his creativity. I admire anyone who has the guts to take the path less travelled, and that path is where Jason lives.

Last year when Jason launched his biggest project ever, Buy My Future, I didn’t have to think twice. Jason has proven himself to be not only a person with big, unconventional ideas, but a person who takes action. He is a collaborator and a maker.  He is someone I want to work with, and I didn’t hesitate to plunk down the cash to buy his future.

Ask yourself: How can this be unconventional? How can this be unique ~JZ

This has become a guiding question for me as I contemplate any new project or idea. Sometimes it feels as if the rest of the world is operating on the assumption that the way it’s always been done is the only way.  I don’t believe that’s true, and I want to align myself with others who are striving to be unconvetional.  Like JZ here!

So what are some of the things Jason has created?  What is he working on next?  I’m so glad you asked, because it’s a lot!

bmf_share_vertical

What a deal!

I’ve personally taken advantage of several of his past projects and have plans to dive into a couple more this fall.  I find Jason entertaining, inspiring, and motivating, and cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!  It’s a thrill to be along for the ride.

I’d like to invite you to take a leap of faith, invest in yourself, and purchase Jason Zook’s future.

It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’ll use the many benefits of buying Jason’s future… myself and the BuyMyFuture community are here to help and support you.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can also buy Jason’s future, check out all the details here. *  Act fast, though: there are only 200 new spaces available this time around and sales end October 4th 2016.

*Here’s some fine print where I’m supposed to tell you that this ibecerra_photography-2s an affiliate link.  That’s how much I believe in investing in yourself and in people who are doing great things in the world. So when you click this link, you are doing just that!  Oh, and I’ll benefit from the sale. This is cool because it will help pay for my own spot in Buy My Future!

 

Yarn Along: I’m Baaack!

Well hello again, friends!  It’s good to be back.  So sorry to disappear on you like that, without any notice or explanation.  All I can say by way of excuse is that I was going through a hard time personally, felt stuck creatively, and couldn’t muster up the motivation to try to force it.

But that’s over now.

I’m going to ease back into the blogging with one of my favorite weekly traditions, Ginny’s Yarn Along.  During my hiatus, I thought about Yarn Along nearly every week.  And I read some of the other posts, and always gleaned a few new ideas for things to knit and books to read.  I’m almost always doing both, so this is the perfect platform for a little sharing.

image

My blogging friend Katie Gibson is a formidable reader, moving along at an enviable pace. She posts regular updates and reviews on what she’s been reading, and I’ve often taken her lists along to the bookstore or library.  You can see her 2014 book list here.

She recently recommended a book by Jojo Moyes.  After looking through all of her titles, I decided to start with Me Before You.  When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit embarrassed to see that it had a romance sticker on the spine.  Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy a good love story.  So far, it’s not romancey in the heaving bosom sort of way at all.  It didn’t take long to get hooked, and now I can’t wait to read her other books!  Don’t you love it when that happens?

There have been a lot of baby knits on the needles the past couple of months.  Not only am I pregnant (yay!  more on that another time), but so are a couple of my friends.  After a first trimester with my head stuck in the toilet and zero knitting mojo, it’s a relief to be back with my wool and needles.  Here are two finished Puerperium cardigans awaiting buttons.  Both are knit in Madelinetosh, one in DK the other in Vintage for two different sizes.  This is a  fun, free pattern that takes just one skein of DK weight yarn. Win!

It’s good to be back, friends.  Thanks for stopping by!

Yarn Along: A Spree

IMG_5790

From Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

I have been knitting and reading up a storm this winter. Something about the weather sends me to the couch in the evenings for knitting, curled up in front of the fire watching something on tv with my sweetie. And then to bed early to curl up with a book.  There has been plenty of both the past couple of months, and it feels really good.  Good to take care of myself and make time for the things that bring me comfort, peace, and creativity.

Currently I’m reading The House Girl. It’s a rich story of the complications of two women, generations apart: life as a young slave, and life as a young career woman.  There’s a lot of complexity to the story that I’m really enjoying, even early on.  I can’t wait to see how it all ties together.  Some other recent reads that have been a treat: DivergentLove Walked InBelong to Me.

My fall sweater has been seeing a lot of action recently.  I started this as part of a Stash knit along, but it got set aside in favor of another sweater and holdiay projects.  The Anzula For Better or Worsted is a dream to knit with; once I start, I don’t want to touch anything else!  So now I’m pointing my laser focus at it and trying to get the pieces finished asap.

And yet…I just wound up yarn for 4 new projects.  We’re heading out on a sunny vacation soon, and I may have gotten a bit carried away.  But you know what? Each of these projects has been on my mind for ages, so why not have the yarn, pattern, and needles ready to go when the mood strikes?!  I’ll probably take 2 with me on vacation.  Or 3. We’ll see.

Yarn Along :: Circus Stripes

Image

Follow me on Instagram as soniaruyts

A few weeks ago, it was light when I woke up.  Lately, it’s been just on the edges of a deep darkness at the same time.  And just like that, summer began its slow shift into autumn.  I’m trying to spend time reminiscing over all the fun, truly summer activities we got to enjoy instead of mounring its inevitable end.  At the same time I’m enjoying the tinge of cool that is creeping in around the edges of each day.

This has me thinking about ways to cozy up my home and dreaming of sweaters to knit with a golden yellow yarn I have stashed for such a purpose.  For now, though, while the days are still quite warm and the evenings a bit brisk, I’m curling up with miles and miles of garter stitch and a journey to another place and time. While continuing to daydream about sweaters, of course.

Image

Night Circus and Happy Street by Veera Valimaki {my Ravelry notes are here}

Image

Both the book and my project capruted my imagination the very first time I saw them.  It took me a while to decide to spend time with either; I tend to shy away from some of the best patterns and books simply because it seems everyone else is already been there.  I had always admired Color Affection by the same designer, but didn’t do it for that reason (nearly 10k projects!).  And here I go mimiking her more recent pattern by using the same color palette.  Oh well.  It’s a bit mysterious, a bit candy crush, and very fun to knit.

The book has been a real treat to immerse myself in.  A mysterios traveling circus.  A challenge between two powerful, magical people.  Fabulous settings, costumes, and illusions fill the pages, and I am hooked.

> > >  < < <

This Yarn Along post, as ever, is inspired by the lovely Ginny over at Small Things: “Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?”

Yes, do tell! What’s on your nightstand and project bag this week?

Growing

IMG_3983

IMG_3976

IMG_3987

The garden is growing.

IMG_4051

Sweet bunting in The Fibre Co. Acadia

IMG_4054

Lobelia in Anzula Cloud

And so is my knititng.

IMG_3906

IMG_3964

IMG_4042

IMG_3994

But most of all, this summer my little girl is growing.  She’s made that indescribable crossing from toddler to small child, and there’s every indication she’ll just keep going from here.  She’s a joker, an artist, a storyteller, and a joyful liver of life.

The way she is lives so fully in the present is truly teaching me what it means to live in the moment.  I am reminded to give her my best as often as I can.  The rest of it: the laundry, the crumbs on the counter, even the running of my business, can just wait a minute.  Because who would want to miss that look?  Not me.